This article – about not over-pressuring children – was linked at the Ambleside Online forums, and I just love the first section:
When an examiner is drawing up his questions, if he would ask himself: Are these tests of real knowledge? What effect will this paper have upon teaching? And if he would then erase all such questions as can be answered by “cram,” that is by unreal knowledge, he alone could deliver us from over-pressure. How? Real knowledge is digested knowledge, digested knowledge means leisure.
Yes, if in the school-day of every boy and girl, and the reading-day of every student, there were sufficient leisure to digest newly-acquired knowledge, there could be no over-pressure.
This mental digestion is not a rapid process; gradually fresh facts sink into the mind, associating themselves to facts already there, pictured in the imagination, weighed and accepted by reason, brooded over and developed; slowly new ideas take root, finding through many channels a resting-place in the intelligence, and mysteriously cherished till the day comes when they shall bear fruit. This operation cannot be hurried; every child, every youth and maiden will digest their knowledge in their own way and at their own pace; all that is wanted is leisure and rest.
Knowledge acquired in any other way is absolutely worthless and temporary; it leads nowhere and to nothing; it is do much unassimilated mental food doomed to be rejected.
Leisure is not laziness, in fact, it is necessary for a truly educated people.
And further down in the article:
An average of three hours’ brain work a day for boys and girls from eight to sixteen, and the addition of another hour or two after that age, will be found quite sufficient. There is so much to do that is not brain work , and that ought not be omitted, how can time be found for more than three hours a day, if the necessary interval is allowed for leisure and rest? …
…Three hours a day for brain work leaves time for physical training, for art, for leisure, rest and enjoyment-during some of which, consciously or unconsciously, the mind carries on its work of digestion. No more pressure and hurry, no wearing out of eyesight by evening work, no pale cheeks and stooping shoulders, no anxiety, no break-down when the examination is within sight, no after-loathing of study, no loss of enthusiasm and joyousness.
Less is more.